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Athlete of the week: North Davidson's E.P. Reese

North Davidson's E.P. Reese is The Dispatch Athlete of the Week. (Photo by Mike Duprez/The Dispatch)

North Davidson’s baseball team, with all of its rich history, entered this season coming off a campaign in which it didn’t make the 4-A playoffs and its two best players graduated.

But, thanks to players like freshman center fielder E.P. Reese, the Knights are ready to rise again.

After losing its Central Piedmont Conference opener to Reagan, North has won three straight conference games and are right back where they’re accustomed to being this time of year: the upper echelon of the CPC. Reese has been a big part of the resurgence.

North avenged that opening loss to Reagan, then swept perennial contender Mount Tabor last week. The Knights then tacked on a convincing 13-1 victory over A.C. Reynolds, which is traditionally a playoff team.

Reese is just one example of the new face of the Black Knights. Wesley Little, Khylil Miller and Eric Morrow have stepped up to compliment upperclassmen C.J. Rice and Andrew Mayton. He knew early there was potential there. “I knew our team was going to be pretty good, because we’ve got a pretty good coaching staff,” Reese said of Mike Meadows, Greg Simpson, Matt Griffin et. al. “And the players looked really good in practice.

“I knew we were gonna be pretty good. I didn’t know we were gonna be this good, though.”

After last week, North is 10-4 and has its sights set on the CPC title. Having a freshman starting in center field and hitting in the No. 5 hole in the batting order has been a surprise to many. “The coaches liked me a lot, and they gave me a lot of opportunities in scrimmage games,” Reese added. “And I did pretty well in those. I really didn’t know (I would be starting on varsity), but I’m really glad it happened, though.”

The Knights are certainly glad it happened as well. North nipped Mount Tabor 2-0 Tuesday behind a brilliant pitching performance from Mayton and a two-run homer from Rice, and were locked in a scoreless duel heading to the bottom of the fourth against the Spartans in Welcome on Thursday. Reese led off the bottom of the fourth with a base hit up the middle on a full-count fastball, and the Knights went on to score four runs. He singled again in the bottom of the fifth to spark a three-run rally, and the Knights ran away with a 7-2 victory.

Then on Friday, he went 2-for-3, including a nifty bunt single on a safety squeeze. That play illustrated the Knights’ new mentality, which includes more speed on the bases and playing more small ball. “Everybody has their own role in a game,” Reese explained. “If someone’s not stepping up, we can always guarantee that someone else will produce.

“That’s really what’s made us a really good team this year.”

And Meadows’ message to the team, and Reese in particular, heading into that crucial fourth inning against Mount Tabor, was quite clear. “Coach was like, ‘We need a hit. Any way you can get on would be great,’” Reese said. “So I just tried my best.”

His best has certainly been good enough for the Knights so far, and North hopes to get his best for the next four years.

Jason Queen can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 220 or